I guess we'll have to depend on people who love the feel and smell of a virgin copy, one without dead flies and boogers and coffee stains between the pages. And, we'll have to depend on people who love art for its own sake, who support the arts generously with time and money.
Why is it that some folks will gladly buy used clothes, but others would never buy a used pair of pants? Why do some folks go the junk yard to find a used auto part and others will only buy replacement auto parts from a car dealer? Perhaps they are different buyers, representing different markets and different values. It's not just about cost. It's also about perceived value.
What is the value-added for the reader of owning a new copy of my book? How do I as the author promote that value (perhaps my ad copy should trumpet the absence of "dead flies and boogers and coffee stains between the pages").
Yup, I've borrowed my share of smoky, stained and stinky books and DVDs from the library! I just read a blog entry from a children's book librarian who had to throw out and replace some books for sanitary reasons.
I fell in love with books at an early age. They were passed on from one reader to the next, we didn't purchase new copies. Yet, sales flourished. A lot of the authors I 'buy' today, were discovered in used book stores and flea markets around the country.
Initially, the book was purchased by someone. I would rather my work keep on giving enjoyment to new readers.
I think there's a huge difference between buying a used copy at a bookstore at a reduced price because the book has already been read and buying it online for two cents. How come so many books are even out there so quickly? Maybe review copies need to be marked more so they don't look brand new. I go to used bookstores all the time because so many book are out of print. The books we're talking about here are often only days old and the author is getting nothing from their sale, not the publisher.
As an author, I hate it. But you buy the book and it's contents, and you sell it to the next reader of give it away. The question is a little like asking if libraries are unethical, because of the number of people who read a single or even mulitiple copies of their books.